LXVIII OVERTHROW OF SAFAVI DYNASTY 317 was apparently permitted to do by the cowardly Persians, who could at least have cut up any small force and thereby interfered with these operations. Having successfully laid waste the thriving villages round Isfahan and driven their inhabitants into the capital, Mahmud again made an assault on one of the bridges, and this time with success, the Georgian garrison being hopelessly drunk. The Afghans then regularly invested the city, and Aman Ulla Khan intercepted two convoys of food, sent from Laristan and from the Bakhtiari country. The Heroic Inhabitants of Ben Isfahan.—A single gleam of light relieves the otherwise unmixed poltroonery of the Persian people. Ben Isfahan,1 a village some ten miles from the capital, declined to surrender. Its inhabitants did more. They sallied out and attacked Aman Ulla Khan when he was returning in disorder, laden with booty from the capture of the Laristan convoy. Mahmud sent reinforcements, but the bold peasantry gained a complete victory, killing a number of the enemy and capturing a brother, an uncle, and two cousins of Mahmud. Upon hearing of the disaster, the Afghan leader sent to the Shah to arrange for the release of the prisoners. This was agreed to, but the messenger the Shah despatched to Ben Isfahan found that the Afghans had already been executed. Thereupon .Mahmud killed all his prisoners, and afterwards withdrew to Farrahabad in a panic. Incompetency or treachery or both prevented this success from being followed up by an attack on the discouraged Afghans, and the loss of a third convoy again dashed the hopes of the Isfahanis. Yet another blow was the refusal of aid by the Prince of Georgia, who, incensed at being prevented from punishing the Lesgians, had sworn never again to draw his sword for Persia. The Unsuccessful Mission of Takmasp Mirza.—Tahmasp Mirzay the third son of the Shah, was now taken out of the anderun and proclaimed heir-apparent. With an escort of six hundred men he broke out of the capital 1 Malcolm states that Ben Isfahan was situated three i liles from the capital, but Bishop Stileman, who very kindly inquired into the matter, has informed me that it is one of a group known as Seh Deh, or " Three Villages," some ten miles distant.